“A wonderful time both on the ice and off the ice.”
Manitoba's Sean Grassie wins curling championship
Manitoba's Sean Grassie used a pair of steals to beat the Ontario rink of Wayne Tuck 6-4 and claim the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship at the Arnaitok Arena in Iqaluit Nov. 15.
"It's exciting," said Manitoba third Alli Nimik. "It's such a long week, so it would have been disappointing to not come out with a win at the end."
Manitoba scored three unanswered points to claim the win, starting with the sixth end.
Faced with a logjam of stones running in a line down the centre of the rings, Grassie had to call a time out. The Manitoba skip tried to tap out an Ontario stone to score two, but missed, scoring only one and coming out of the end tied at 4.
"We were debating should we try something and try to score two that end," Grassie said. "We just sort of played a peel there to see if it would open up … It was pretty tough."
Tuck then missed the last shot of both the seventh and eighth ends allowing Grassie to score a point in each end. Tuck forced a scoreless ninth end, which allowed him to take last rock into the tenth and final end.
But Grassie's team packed the house with yellow stones, foiling any Ontario comeback, and forcing Tuck to concede before he threw his final shot. It's the eighth time Manitoba has won the national mixed title.
The Grassie rink cruised all week, losing only once, a 10-7 loss to Ian Fisher of Northern Ontario, in 11 round robin matches.
For Tuck's Ontario rink, the road was much tougher. Ontario finished tied for third with Nova Scotia after the round robin and had to beat the Halifax rink of Mark Dacey, a former world champion, 8-4 in a tiebreaker Nov. 14.
Tuck then posted a thrilling 6-5 win over second place Darrell McKee's Saskatchewan rink last Friday night, by drawing to the very centre of the button on the last rock of the tenth end.
The crowd at the final was far from a sellout, but still strong, with nearly 200 in attendance. Organizers were pleased with the reception Iqaluit gave to its first national sports championship.
The host committee tried to steep curlers in Inuit culture, with sightseeing trips and country food tasting sessions. They even successfully lobbied to have a craft show rescheduled by a week so curlers could stock up on Christmas presents.
"It went exceptionally well," she said. "Our volunteers have been stupendous, the curling has been great and the competitors have had a wonderful time both on the ice and off the ice."
The Inuvik-based rink of George Lennie, which represented Yukon-Northwest Territories, struggled all week, finishing with 11 losses in as many games.
But the team earned a big cheer from the Arnaitok Arena crowd when they entered the closing ceremonies waving Nunavut and NWT flags.